Artist Book or Livre d’Artiste?

The Art Library’s latest addition is The Book by photographer and graphic designer Julius Friedman.* It’s a simple title for a book that is anything but.

It started with library discards, books falling apart, covers battered, bindings torn. Friedman took those sad books and made them into something startlingly beautiful. He manipulated pages, he tore pages, he drilled holes in pages, he collaged pages, he swirled pages. And then he photographed what he had made. Transforming these books into art, into artists’ books, he was giving the old books new life. The response to the photographs of his artists’ books was even stronger than the response to the objects themselves. So an idea began to germinate – ask writers to share their thoughts about books, match their writings with photographs and produce a limited edition book. With the help of writer and editor Dianne Aprile he did just that. Eventually 23 writers contributed to the project.**

Friedman chose master printer Gray Zeitz of Larkspur Press in Monterey, Kentucky, to do the exquisite letterpress printing of the text. Binder Carolyn Whitsel tipped in the photographs and then sewed the signatures with waxed linen around black tape. Using boards covered with black Japanese book cloth, she fashioned an exposed spine binding. Finally, Friedman asked John Reeb to make the cherry box that houses each book. Friedman then included a photographic print in each box.

At this point, The Book seems to have entered the realm of Livre d’Artiste. Developed in late 19th – early 20th century France, the livre d’artiste refers to a sumptuously created, limited edition book, illustrated with original prints that are made or chosen to resonate with the text. The Art Library’s copy is number 5 in an edition of 20.  Whether artist book or livre d’artiste, we are thrilled to add The Book to our collection.

Below are some images of The Book and a sampling of what’s inside.

box by John Reebfront cover

ball within book  book spiral

book rock

book with gingko leaf 2



















*JULIUS FRIEDMAN is a graphic designer, photographer, artist specializing in cultural, nonprofit, and corporate design. His works are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the National Museum of Poster Art, Warsaw, Poland; the Dansk Plakamuseum, Aarhous, Denmark; the Brown-Forman Corporation; 21C Museum.

**List of contributors
DIANNE APRILE is an editor and writer of essays and books, including The Eye is Not Enough, a collaboration with visual artist Mary Lou Hess. A former journalist and jazz-club owner, she teaches creative nonfiction at Spalding University’s brief-residency MFA in Writing Program.

MARTHA COLLINS is the author, most recently, of White Papers and the book-length poem Blue Front. She has also published four earlier collections of poems and two collections of co-translated Vietnamese poetry. She is currently editor-at-large for FIELD magazine and an editor for Oberlin College Press.

KATHLEEN DRISKELL’s collection Seed Across Snow was listed as a national bestseller by the Poetry Foundation. Her book Blue Etiquette is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. She helps direct Spalding University’s brief-residency MFA in Writing Program.

CLAUDIA EMERSON’s five books include Late Wife, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and, most recently, Secure the Shadow. Emerson has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Library of Congress, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.

NIKKY FINNEY has authored four books of poetry, including Head Off & Split, which won the 2011 National Book Award for poetry. She also authored Heartwood and edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. Co-founder of Affrilachian Poets, she teaches at the University of South Carolina where she holds an endowed chair.

KATHLEEN FLENNIKEN is the author of Plume, a meditation on the Hanford Nuclear Site and finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award, and Famous, named an ALA Notable Book. Her other honors include a Pushcart Prize and an NEA fellowship. She is the 2012 – 2014 Washington State Poet Laureate.

ALBERT GOLDBARTH, a distinguished professor of Humanities at Wichita State University, is the author of over twenty poetry collections, most recently Everyday People. He has published three essay collections, as well, and was a Guggenheim fellow and twice a winner of the National Book Critics Circle award.

SARAH GORHAM is the author of four collections of poetry, Bad Daughter, The Cure, The Tension Zone, and Don’t Go Back to Sleep. Her essays have appeared in AGNI, Iowa Review, Quarterly West, Pleiades, Gulf Coast, Arts & Letters, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Sarabande Books.

MARIE HOWE has published three books of poems, The Good Thief, What the Living Do, an elegy for her brother who died of AIDS, and most recently The Kingdom of Ordinary Time. She is Poet Laureate of New York state, where she teaches at Sarah Lawrence.

PICO IYER is the author of two novels and eight works of non-fiction, including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul and, most recently, The Man Within My Head. An essayist for Time since 1986, he publishes regularly in The New York Review of Books and The New York Times.

NANA LAMPTON attended Wellesley College, University of Virginia, and Spalding University. She is a board member of Yaddo and Sarabande’s Advisory Board. Her publications include Bloom on a Split Board and The Moon with the Sun in Her Eye.

SHANE MCCRAE is the author of Mule, Blood, and three chapbooks. His work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Fence and elsewhere, and he has received a Whiting Writer’s Award and an NEA fellowship. He teaches in the brief-residency MFA program at Spalding University.

MAUREEN MOREHEAD is a poet and teacher in Louisville, KY. Her latest book is Late August Blues: The Daylily Poems. She is on the poetry faculty at Spalding University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. She was Kentucky Poet Laureate for 2011-2012.

LUCIA PERILLO’s sixth book of poems, On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths, was a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award. Her previous book, Inseminating the Elephant, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Bobbitt prize from the Library of Congress.

PAUL QUENON is a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. He has published five books of poetry, with his photography, including The Art of Pausing and Monkswear.

SPENCER REECE, an ordained priest and former chaplain to the Episcopal bishop of Spain, is a teacher and chaplain at the bilingual school of Nuestras Pequenas Rosas, a home for abandoned and abused girls in Honduras. His second book of poems, The Road to Emmaus, is forthcoming in April, 2014.

JEFFREY SKINNER’s new book of poems, Glaciology, won the 2012 Crab Orchard Open Poetry Competition. His play, Down Range, will have its second full production in Chicago in 2014. In addition to poetry collections, his other books include The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets.

KATERINA STOYKOVA-KLEMER is the author of three poetry books, most recently The Porcupine of Mind. She is founder of Accents Publishing and hosts Accents radio show on WRFL (88.1 FM) in Lexington

TREE SWENSON is executive director of Richard Hugo House. She spent ten years as executive director of the Academy of American Poets in New York. She was executive director and co-founder of Copper Canyon Press, where for twenty years she published poetry, and a former AWP Board President.

FRANK X WALKER is poet laureate of Kentucky. He is a Lannan Literary Fellow for Poetry, University of Kentucky associate professor of English and editor of Pluck! the Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. Among his six books of poetry is Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers.

EMILY WARN’s latest of five books of poetry is Shadow Architect, An Exploration Of The 22 Letters Of The Hebrew Alphabet. Her poems and essays appear widely, including in Poetry, Bookforum, Poetry Northwest, and The Writer’s Almanac. The founding editor of, she now teaches and writes in Seattle.

JONATHAN WEINERT is the author of In the Mode of Disappearance, winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize, and Thirteen Small Apostrophes, a chapbook. He is co-editor of Until Everything Is Continuous Again: American Poets on the Recent Work of W.S. Merwin.

NANCY WILLARD, a winner of the Devins Memorial Award, has had NEA grants in fiction and poetry. Her book Water Walker was nominated for the National Book Critics Award. She won the Newbery Medal for A Visit To William Blake’s Inn. Her most recent poetry book is The Sea at Truro.

CATHERINE WING’s second collection, Gin & Bleach, won the Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature and was published by Sarabande Books. She has recent poems in Best American Poetry, Crazyhorse, and The Nation. She teaches at Kent State University.

2 Comments on “Artist Book or Livre d’Artiste?”

  1. Karyn says:

    More beautiful uses for discards! I would love to see this 🙂

  2. magnusonart says:

    Reblogged this on magnusonart and commented:
    words are our legacy

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